Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The Boss Says No: Bruce Springsteen Already Campaigning Against Ticketmaster-Live Nation Deal

Struggling Ticketmaster, which holds a near-monopoly on concert ticket sales, wants to merge with struggling Live Nation (LYV), which is the biggest concert promoter in the world. Will antitrust regulators let this one fly?

We’ll find out once the reported deal becomes official, which could happen as early as Friday. In the meantime, you can consider the varied opinions of antitrust attorneys and experts quoted in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Or you can just ask the Boss, who gives the deal an unqualified thumbs down.

The story: Bruce Springsteen happens to be embarking on yet another megatour (perhaps you caught him on TV the other day). Said tour, which is using Ticketmaster (TKTM) to sell tickets (again, like just about everyone else in the concert business) has already run into a snafu involving TicketsNow, the “secondary marketplace” (i.e., legal aftermarket/scalping) company Ticketmaster bought last year.

If you want the details, you can consult Springsteen’s Web site, where the musician and manager Jon Landau have posted a long apology. Or you can cut to the chase:

The one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.

The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you. We will continue to do our utmost now and in the future to make sure that these practices are permanently curtailed on our tours.”

And that’s the thing: There are plenty of companies Americans enjoy disliking, but most of them have some kind of lobby and political clout to help shrug off that animus. But just about anyone who’s bought a concert ticket has at some point cursed Ticketmaster for some kind of perceived slight or insult. And unlike banks, oil, health care or any of our favorite bugaboos, it’s hard to argue that ticket brokers perform some crucial function in our economy, so we have to put up with it.

Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff is one shrewd dude. But he’s going to have to be awfully persuasive to find people in Washington willing to back this one when it gets to Washington.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”